Bishops in the Church of England have overwhelmingly voted to ban gay conversion therapy for LGBT+ Christians.
Jayne Ozanne, a Christian LGBT+ rights campaigner, introduced a motion which called on the Church to recognise that gay conversion therapy is “potentially harmful” and has “no place in the modern world”.
“Given that many practitioners are non-medically trained religious leaders, it is imperative that the Church of England is unequivocal in its condemnation of such harmful practices.”
During the debate, Dr John Sentamu, The Archbishop of York, said: “The sooner the practice of so-called conversion therapy is banned, I can sleep at night.”
The motion passed with an overwhelmind majority. Only one bishop voted against the measure in the House of Bishops.
Before the vote, Ozanne – who underwent gay conversion therapy herself – said: “I call it abuse. I believe it is spiritual abuse.
“It (sexual orientation) is a very delicate area that only true professionals should be dealing with. And they won’t try to change people’s sexual orientation, they will help them try to deal with it.
“What people don’t understand is that you can enter into this sort of practice willingly because you think it is the right thing to do because you have been told it is what God wants.
“It is only years later that the impact becomes apparent.”
Andrea Minichiello Williams, a member of the Church’s General Synod and director of the anti-LGBT+ Christian group Christian Concern, was critical of the motion. “There are very many Christian counsellors and spiritual directors, as well as vicars and lay pastoral workers, who meet regularly with Christians with same-sex attraction,” she said.
“They do so because the person has come to them, and because they want to explore their sexual desires within the framework of the Bible and Christian discipleship.
“They are looking for pastoral and Godly help to enable them to live full, Christian lives, within the natural order which God created.”